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STAND TALL

FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE RING

A harrowing and inspiring account of fighting a nearly lifelong battle against injustice.

One man’s struggle to stay positive when he was incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit.

Bozella suffered an extremely different childhood within the foster care system and turned to petty theft, but the murder for which he was convicted in 1983 forced him to spend 26 years behind bars. In this candid memoir, the author tells his painful side of the story: how he was accused and found guilty on scant proof and how he spent the next half of his life as a prisoner in Sing Sing and other jails. “Convicted murderer. There’s no way ever to take the sharp edge off those words or grow accustomed to their pain,” he writes. “Especially when they’re a lie, when you’re paying for another man’s crime, your whole life hijacked by people who turned their backs on the truth. That they did it so casually made it all the worse….I was a convenient scapegoat for an ambitious prosecutor and a bumbling police department.” Throughout, Bozella shares specific details that only someone who has spent time in jail would know—e.g., the code of conduct inmates must follow if they want to avoid being attacked by a fellow prisoner; the underground commerce in drugs, food, clothes, and sex and how a pack of cigarettes often takes the place of cash; and the endless hours that need to be filled, which Bozella used to learn foreign languages, certificates in a variety of subjects, and his master’s degree. Throughout his ordeal, the author stayed surprisingly positive and used his instincts as a boxer to help him make the necessary changes in his attitude toward life. When he was finally exonerated, he was able to forgive those who had sent him to prison. “Telling people my story,” he writes, “is the best way I’ve found to turn bitterness into hope.”

A harrowing and inspiring account of fighting a nearly lifelong battle against injustice.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-220815-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


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  • Kirkus Prize
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  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Winner


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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